"As a country, we're at such odds with our government that the idea of a likeable candidate feels unnatural to some bruised and weary voters who are poised to yank the entertainment out of politics. Enter Night Wraps the Sky. The book is a forceful tribute to the die-hard communist and incendiary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, who unfalteringly believed that artistic performance was the medium that would open the gates for an ideological revolution. Not only did he believe it, but he had the entire country and party convinced as well. Mayakovsky was something of a superstar in his time, but editor Michael Almereyda makes a strong case in this long overdue anthology (in English translation) that the Russian Revolution's representative poet was motivated entirely by political sincerity and socialist ambition . . . Almereyda successfully portrays a country and an ideology so raw that only a poetic persona of epic proportions could bring it to the people . . . In Night Wraps the Sky, we get the impression that communism was woven into his fibers as intrinsically as the need for food, love or human connection. It is from this assertion that we derive the essence of Mayakovsky's true singularity. These days, we're not willing to admit that artists effect change or believe that politicians create beauty. The release of Night Wraps the Sky comes at a time when we have something to learn from this self-martyred poet. A relationship between artistic performance and social productivity is one we should not reject."—Brooklyn Rail“Mayakovsky read like a sailor shouting through a megaphone to another ship in a heavy sea.”—John Berger"Allen Ginsberg admired the epic sweep and social ambition of Mayakovsky's poetry, while Frank O'Hara was fascinated by Mayakovsky's unabashed intimacy with the cosmos. The barbaric-bardic energy and influence of the Russian Futurist giant have been obscured for half a century, but Michael Almereyda has recovered a living, still-breathing figure of folk majesty, a poet-declaimer whose discoveries are far from spent." —Andrei Codrescu"The poet Mayakovsky may have been a genius, a hipster, a shill, and the first and only early-Soviet rap star. Night Wraps the Sky finally does justice to one of the most fascinating and controversial literary bad boys of the 20th Century."—Gary Shteyngart"Vladimir Mayakovsky was one of the great poets of the Russian Revolution and, along with Lorca and Apollinaire, one of the great poetic idols of the 20th century. Here, filmmaker Almereyda presents all of Mayakovsky's great poems (e.g., 'A Cloud in Pants,' 'Screaming My Head Off,' 'Getting Along with Horses') alongside excerpts from his memoir (I, Myself), artistic appreciations, and eyewitness accounts that together offer insight into the poet's art and life. The translations—by a new generation of Russian American poets—are consistently wonderful. Rachel Cohen's essay concisely and brilliantly describes the Futurists, the Formalists, the Acmeists, and the Symbolists—all artistic groups surrounding Mayakovsky. The book further explores Mayakovsky's relationships with Lili Brik and Tatiana Yakovleva, explains his propaganda work, and addresses his mixture of the surreal, the lyric, and the sarcastic; the text is generously illustrated with photographs of Mayakovsky's friends and contemporaries and artworks of the times. Encompassing the excitement and glory of the revolution's generation, this is an important addition to literature collections."—Gene Shaw, Library Journal"The volatile young poet rose to prominence as a coauthor of the Russian Futurist manifesto A Slap in the Face of Public Taste in 1912; the next five years saw the explosive sexual boasting and the fragmentary lines of such poems as 'A Cloud in Pants,' experimental plays and even participation in important Russian modernist filmmaking. An enemy of tradition in all its forms, the moody, energetic Vladimir Mayakovsky supported the Soviet revolution wholeheartedly, writing a poem called '150,000,000' in support of the Soviet army. Yet the passionate poet became worn down by the grind of his personal life and by Stalin's assault on something dear to him—modern art. Mayakovsky shot himself in 1930, and his subsequent canonization by the U.S.S.R. made him a figure of ambivalence even for Russians who liked his daring verse. Mixing well-translated poems with bits from Mayakovsky's short autobiography I, Myself, excerpts from memoirs (by the likes of Osip Mandelstam and Francine du Plessix Gray) and short bits from critics' writings, Almereyda [gives] Mayakovsky a new audience."—Publishers Weekly
Listen to Michael Almereyda, editor of the Night Wraps the Sky antholoy, read Vladimir Mayakovsky's poem, "Night Wraps the Sky."
Listen to translator Val Vinokur reads Vladimir Mayakovsky's "Getting Along with Horses" in English. This poem is featured in the Night Wraps the Sky anthology.
Translator Val Vinokur reads Vladimir Mayakovsky's
"Getting Along with Horses" in Russian. This poem is featured in the Night Wraps the Sky anthology.
Listen to the audio recording from the March 24th reading in the Bowery Poetry Club featuring contributors to the Night Wraps the Sky anthology.
Listen to Joseph Clement read Vladimir Mayakovsky's poem, 'For You,' in its English translation.